Regency Men: The Dandy Thomas Raikes

Born in 1777 to Thomas Raikes, a merchant in London, governor of the Bank of England, and a personal friend of Wilberforce and William Pitt, the younger Thomas Raikes would make a name for himself as more of a dandy than Cit.

The younger Thomas was sent to Eton where he met George Brummel, among others. He did a tour at the age of nineteen, and returned to England to become a partner with his father. However, “he was more at home in the clubs of the West-end” and spent most of his time cultivating the acquaintances of the fashionable world (Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 47, 1896). The young dandy belonged to the Carlton Club, White’s, and Waiters. He was affectionately nicknamed Apollo “because he rose in the east and set in the west”, which was his favored moniker to use in the betting books at Whites. He was a tall man, marked with smallpox scars, yet dressed in the fine clothes of a dandy to distinguish himself (Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 47, 1896).

In addition to being notorious as “one of the Rakes of London” he was also known as a diarist and said to be “a pleasant companion, a good listener, an agreeable retailer of anecdote” and a man who “dearly loved a gosssip” (Household Words :, Volume 16, 1857). Of his long time friend Beau Brummel, Raikes wrote: “Never was there a man who during his career had such unbounded influence and, what is seldom the case, such general popularity in society. Without being a man of intrigue, for I never knew him engaged in what is called a liaison in society, he was the idol of women….he was a host of amusement in himself with his jokes and jeers, but because he was such a favourite with the men that were all anxious to join the party.”

The portions of his journals available online are delightful, funny and give a great slice of life look into the Upper Orders:

Thomas Raikes eventually died in 1848, after a long career as sometimes merchant, dandy, diarist, and politician. His wife of twenty years died in 1822 after giving him one son and three daughters, one of whom (Harriet) became a novelist and the editor of published correspondence between her father and Wellington (see below).

Thomas Raikes makes an appearance in Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.

Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and American Monthly Review, 1838

(Foreward, Private Correspondence of Thomas Raikes with the Duke of Wellington, 1861).

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